New spin on teaching the date, and other boring things! Mix it up with these input-rich activities

Use this detective activity to practice dates, numbers, time and more in Spanish 1

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I  am always looking for creative ways to teach important vocabulary and grammatical points that form the ABC's of learning Spanish.  I have become a detective in a way myself,  constantly looking for ways to spice up a lesson to deliver content that is original and fun for me as well.

I love role play, creating stories and dialogues that contextualize to such a way that students learn more than they bargain for incidentally. This method has earned many dividends over the span of my 14 year career.

This year, I have found a new twist to teaching the days of the week, dates and other ancillary but important building blocks to the language.

At my school, we do not use the Realidades series, but I happened to stumble upon the connected series Eres Tú María a few years ago; and I have shown it ever since. It can be found on Youtube and Vimeo. This series is wonderful in starting with basic Spanish and then getting more complex.

I usually show the first 10 episodes sprinkled throughout the school year as each one builds on the other in terms of vocabulary, structures, themes, and storyline. My students love when it is Maria time. At first, I was showing it as a treat more or less. After an arduous 90 minutes of class, this was a good brain break every couple of weeks. However, now that I have a better idea of how best to engage students in the first couple week of my Novice Level Spanish I class, I will use this resource to maximize and capitalize on input for listening and practicing:

  • Days of the week

  • Dates in Spanish 
  • Highlighting countries 
  • Greetings 
  • Simple vocabulary words such as libro, periódico and some verbs to get them started.  

Since Lola is a detective privada in the series, I created this investigative report/ detective activity in where students will:
  • View content with a specific purpose 
  • Write for a specific purpose and have an audience in mind 

In this role-play activity, students are tasked with watching Lola (who is investigating a possible crime). As such the activity calls for them to: 
  • Answer 7 basic questions related to the video. They actually get the information while watching the video the first or second time. The video is about 10 minutes. 
  • Investigative cloze-text report template with word bank
  • Section to fill out their own information (includes writing out numbers and email)
  • Directions for filling out the report. 

Are there any basic videos or series you'd recommend for teaching the first few weeks of Spanish 1?

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